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Editors Opening 

On a rainy afternoon, I sat with a dusty old journal in hand. The yellowed label on the spine indicated that the journal covered the years 1914-1917. It was the daily journal of a boat builder listing pertinent information about materials used on projects, orders for boats, pricing and tasks accomplished during the day. He also noted the weather, wrote about laying on varnish and maybe that an employee didn’t show up.

Three pages had been my primary “target”, Rick McGraw, owner of Heldena II, had marked them and I had looked at those pages first. At the top of page 166 it stated “Jany 12/17 Heldena II Modified Estimate”. It went on to list how many board feet of each type of wood were to be used for the boat. I looked over all three pages that had been marked, but something kept nagging at me. Then it dawned on me…it stated “Modified Estimate” that meant there may have been an earlier estimate in the journal. I began to gently turn each page back one by one being careful not to damage them. There were seven pages dedicated to a “Mr. Morgan’s 30’ x 9’ Yawl with another detailed listing of materials and specifications. As I kept turning back “time” in the daily life of this boat builder, I began to read his hand written copies of letters to companies that are very familiar today. For instance, letters to the Peterborough Canoe Company in Ontario, the Polson Iron Works Company and the Curtis “Areoplane” Company.

As I continued my “travels” back in time I began to notice that at the top of each page the writer had penned a statement that was not related to boat building. The first, dated “Tuesday, Feby 3/15” read “3 British Merchant ships sunk in Irish and English Channel”. The page before, “Battle in North Sea, German Bluecher(?) Sank Sunday 24”. I became entranced with the entries as I continued to turn back the pages. He stated that “an earthquake in Italy January 14, 1915 had killed 12,000 people, that there had been a “Zepplin raid in England on the night of January 19th, 1915” and that “King George had been at the front” December 1st 1914. The entry on November 16th stated “Dreadnaught - Andacious(?) Sunk, Lord Roberts died Sat at the front” and that the “War was still fierce”.

On a couple of pages, notes or newspaper clippings had been attached to the page with straight pins. Now rusted, they remain where they had been placed by the authors’ hand some 85 years ago. He went on to build Heldena II, the Gold Cup Record Holder for three consecutive years. He lived history and made history. His name was J. J. Taylor.
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